Death of a Salesgirl written and performed by Geri Hall, Erin Keaney, Jennifer Robertson and Jennifer Whalen. Presented by Robertson at Tom Foolery's (194 Bloor West). Runs to June 30, Sunday 8 pm. $10. 416-967-5005. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Go check out Death of a Salesgirl and shopping won't feel the same again.The bittersweet comedy looks at life through the tired eyes of four women working retail: Parker (Jennifer Robertson), a nerdy greeter at the Gap; Julie (Jennifer Whalen), who hawks sex toys at Tupperware-style parties; Jean (Erin Keaney), a cosmetician in love with surgical enhancements; and Elan (Geri Hall), a sullen singing server at Lick's.
There's lots of room for cute comedy here, including a clever bit about the Gap sales rack and a funny sequence about women's orgasms.
But these monologues tug at the heart and conscience, too. Parker tells a story suggesting the conformity required of Gap employees (and, by extension, its customers) and Jean bitches about her clients so much that you know she's dissatisfied with herself.
Most moving is Hall's Elan, a wise and bitter 17-year-old who's fallen in love with a fellow employee, hates her mom and really hates having to sing the 50s-era songs for her customers.
This last detail provides one of the show's cleverest ongoing gags, as the other three women interrupt Elan's tales to break into song.
No director is credited, and this lack occasionally shows, especially in some of the performers' tendencies to rely on comic mannerisms. Hall wisely underplays things, and Whalen, an underrated actor, nicely suggests the pain beneath the comedy.
The staging is simple enough, and the play gains power as it progresses, turning darker and more surreal.
It's not quite the drama suggested by the Milleresque title, but Death Of A Salesgirl uses laughs and insights to show how demeaning jobs can kill the human spirit.